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AbstractDespite tremendous success of molecular targeted therapy together with immunotherapy, only a small subset of patients can benefit from them. Chemotherapy remains the mainstay treatment for most of tumors including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); however, non-selective adverse effects on healthy tissues and secondary resistance are the main obstacles. Meanwhile, the quiescent or dormant cancer stem-like cells (CSLCs) are resistant to antimitotic chemoradiotherapy. Complete remission can only be realized when both proliferative cancer cells and quiescent cancer stem cells are targeted. In the present research, we constructed a cooperatively combating conjugate (DTX-P7) composed of docetaxel (DTX) and a heptapeptide (P7), which specifically binds to cell surface Hsp90, and assessed the anti-tumor effects of DTX-P7 on non-small cell lung cancer. DTX-P7 preferentially suppressed tumor growth compared with DTX in vivo with a favorable distribution to tumor tissues and long circulation half-life. Furthermore, we revealed a distinctive mechanism whereby DTX-P7 induced unfolded protein response and eventually promoted apoptosis. More importantly, we found that DTX-P7 promoted cell cycle reentry of slow-proliferating CSLCs and subsequently killed them, exhibiting a “proliferate to kill” pattern. Collecitvely, by force of active targeting delivery of DTX via membrane-bound Hsp90, DTX-P7 induces unfolded protein response and subsequent apoptosis by degrading Hsp90, meanwhile awakens and kills the dormant cancer stem cells. Thus, DTX-P7 deserves further development as a promising anticancer therapeutic for treatment of various membrane-harboring Hsp90 cancer types. Graphical Abstract

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Hematology & Oncology


Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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